“And,” added she, as she saw Bressant making his way toward her, with unmistakable signs on his face of having been successful in his errand, “and suppose you go now, and find out when papa leaves, so as to be sure to be on hand.”
It was very neatly managed, on the whole; and Cornelia, as she put on her shoes, and drew the hood around her face, congratulated herself on her tact and readiness. Yet she felt a little uneasiness, assignable to no particular cause, and upon no definite subject; it may have been nothing more than some slight qualms of conscience at having so deluded her unfortunate admirer. As she came down from the ladies’ dressing-room, she felt a strong impulse to go and kiss her papa good-by; but reflecting that Bill would probably be with him, and that she would see him at any rate before she went to bed, she thought better of it; and, taking Bressant’s arm—he was waiting her at the foot of the stairs—she signified her readiness to start.
“When did papa say he was coming?” asked she, as they moved through the passage-way to the door.
“He was playing backgammon; he said he should be through in ten minutes; he would probably overtake us before we got to the Parsonage,” replied the young man.
“I hope he’ll be all safe!” said Cornelia, half to herself, the vague feeling of uneasiness still working within her.
At the door they were met by Abbie, who bade them good-night, with the same expression upon her lips and in her eyes that she had worn when presenting them to one another early in the evening.
“Take good care of each other, my children,” said she, as they passed out; but her tone was so low as to be audible to Cornelia alone.
DOLLY ACTS AN IMPORTANT PART.
The faintest of breezes wafted in the young people’s faces as they descended the wooden steps of the boarding-house and passed along the dark, deserted sidewalk of the village street. The noisy dance was soon left at a distance; how extravagant and unnatural it seemed in comparison with the deep, sweet night in which they were losing themselves!
The brightness of the stars, and the wavering peaks and jagged edges of the northern lights, brought out the shadows of the uneven hills, and revealed the winding length of downy mist which kept the stream in the valley warm. Such was the stillness, and the subdued tone of the landscape, that it seemed unreal—the phantom of a world which had lost its sunshine, and was mourning for it in gentle melancholy.
The sense of the solitude around them brought the young man and woman closer to one another. For enjoyment to be, mortally speaking, perfect, it needs that a soft and dreamy element of sadness should be added to it; and this was given by the gracious influence of the night. The darkness, too, encouraged the germs of that mutual reliance, hopefulness, and trust, which combine to build up the more vital and profound relations of life. There is a magic mystery and power in it, which we can laugh at in the sunshine, but whose reality, at times, forces itself upon us mightily.